Saturday, 23 May 2009


The first strawberries of the season are ripening - I picked the first ones about a week ago, but now they're coming to full swing. It looks like a good crop this year, loads of flowers which the bees have been all over, so fruit formation is good. With the warm temperatures and sunshine there should be plenty of lovely sweet strawberries over the next week.

Hapil is a variety not really grown by the big strawberry growers - it doesn't suit their requirements of long shelf life and lots of transport. It is, however perfect for us - ripens evenly, good sized fruit, funny shaped fruit (!) and most importantly a beautiful taste.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Of seaweed and lettuce

It's unusual to be gathering seaweed in May, but with the recent bouts of heavy swell and strong winds, a lot of seaweed has been ripped off the rocks around the islands and deposited on the beaches. Here is a load on Little Bay - at its best there must have been more than 50 tonnes there, of which I only managed to get about 8! Still, better than nothing and it'll go towards making some good compost, mixed with old hay, grass clippings and weeds.

Although the air temperatures haven't been especially warm, there's been plenty of rain with some bursts of sunshine in between. Most plants seem fairly happy with this and have consequently grown quite fast. The first lettuce planting of the season happens in late March and I've been picking for about four weeks now. They're looking and tasting really good.

Another good early crop is Chard, which comes in an amazing array of colours, from the solid and dependable white Swiss chard, through pink, orange and yellow to this lovely Ruby. And an interesting fact about the coloured chards - their roots are also coloured! This is very unusual amongst common vegetables.

This time of year the flowers are perhaps at their best for the whole year. At the moment are the first honeysuckle flowers have appeared and their scent is absolutely delightful. It always reminds me of warm summer evenings - sadly very few of those recently, but a complete pleasure all the same.

And of the cultivated flowers, mustard is really flowering well at the moment. This is in the orchard and being enjoyed massively by my bees, whose hive is in the field right next door. Bumblebees are also loving the mustard as well as other insects. Sowing green manures, such as mustard, really does have multiple benefits - for soil, wildlife... and people.